Divorce therapy experts say it can be hard for friends and family members to find a way to help a man who is depressed after going through a divorce. The first step, for friends, is to learn about depression. The second step is to try to get the man to talk about his depression or to get him to seek help.
Symptoms of Depression
When a son, father, brother, boyfriend, or friend has gone through a divorce, it is often easy to see when he is going through a difficult time. On the other hand, some men are very adept at hiding their feelings and vulnerabilities from others. As per divorce therapy, in either case, there are signs and symptoms that concerned friends can learn to spot.
Signs of depression
Loss of interest in normal daily activities (isolation)
Feeling sad or down
Trouble focusing or concentrating
Difficulty making decisions
Unintentional weight gain or loss
Irritability (anger or lashing out)
Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
Divorce therapy expert says many men have a hard time talking about their feelings. They also find it difficult to ask for help. Depression may be:
Talk about the physical symptoms of their depression (like feeling tired or having stomach upset)
Try to make themselves feel better by using alcohol or drugs
Have lapses in personal hygiene, such as not bathing or shaving
Bury themselves in their work
A divorce therapy expert says, “Suicide is most common amongst men who are separated, widowed or divorced and is more likely if someone is a heavy drinker.” Hopefully, this will be unnecessary, but here is a link for friends who want info on suicide prevention.
How to Help Depressed Men
If a divorced man is experiencing depression, along with the anger and isolation that often accompany divorce, friends may want to help but not know what to do. Below are some suggestions:
A man with depression may not realize he is depressed or may be embarrassed to admit that he is depressed.
Gently tell him “what you have observed and why you are concerned.”
Let him know “that you want to understand how he feels and that you’re willing to listen.”
Remind him about his positive qualities. Depression makes people feel worthless.
Encourage prompt treatment. Depression is a medical condition that is usually treatable. A doctor may advise antidepressants or may give a referral to a psychologist.
Offer to make the initial appointment with the doctor and offer to go along.
If he is isolated and lethargic, offer to help him with specific tasks, such as making a grocery list or creating a system for organizing household chores like laundry and bill paying.
Try to make plans with him. Ask if he would like to go on a walk, visit friends, see a movie, go to a ball game, or anything he might find interesting, but don’t force it.
Friends and family members (and girlfriends), who want to help a divorced man afflicted with depression, may not be able to get their depressed friend to open up, at least not right away. If necessary, talk things over with family members, a therapist, or any health professional for further guidance. A seriously depressed man is seldom able to come up with the right course of action without the love and help of his friends.
Helping Teens Cope with Divorce
These teens are feeling a wide range of emotions and divorce therapy experts try to help them to cope the situation. They may be experiencing anger, sadness, guilt, anxiety, resentment, and even jealousy. Make sure you let them know that this is normal, and that any feelings that they have about the situation are okay.
Don’t force kids to discuss the divorce with you if they don’t want to. They will let you know when they are ready to talk.
Put Things in Perspective
Remind kids that may be blaming themselves that kids don’t cause their parents’ divorce, nor is there anything they can do that will magically make things okay again. They may need to hear this message over and over. Kids need to know that the divorce is an issue between their parents, and not something they need to take responsibility for.
Cut Them Some Slack
Help kids cope with the changes they are experiencing as a result of the divorce. Be understanding if they are not themselves, have trouble concentrating, or need a little extra support.
Don’t Take Sides
It is strictly suggested by divorce therapy experts not to take sides. Even if kids seem to focus all of their blame and anger on one parent exclusively, make sure you don’t come across as putting their parent down. Instead, reflect their feelings by saying something like, “It sounds as if you have a lot of anger towards your dad right now.” This will help the teen feel heard and encourage more sharing.
Show Some Sensitivity
Watch out for activities and events that may throw an unnecessary spotlight on the teen’s family situation. Don’t make him any more uncomfortable than necessary.
Help Kids Speak Up
Some teens may want to talk to their parents about the divorce, but don’t know how. Help them figure out ways to bring the subject up, or help them put their questions and concerns into words.
Encourage Kids to Take Care of Themselves
Make sure they are eating right, getting enough sleep, and having fun with their friends. If you notice any sudden changes in these areas, it’s time to alert a parent.
Know When to Seek Help
If the teen seems to be having an unusually difficult time adjusting to the divorce, seems depressed, or you have other concerns, a referral to a mental health professional may be in order. Talk to his parents about your concerns.
Coping with a parents’ divorce is a very traumatic time for kids, but there are things that you can do to help.
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